Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Arcade; Platform Game
Author : Wal Mansell
Standalone Release(s) : 1984: BOXER, Acornsoft, £9.95
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron
Supplier : ACORNSOFT, Betjeman House, 104 Hills Road, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1LQ
Tel: (0223) 316039
Disc compatibility : ADFS 1D00, CDFS 1D00, DFS 1D00
"BOXER is a fast moving arcade-type game in which you try to catch balloons despite your opponent's attempts to stop you. Dodge falling weights, and the hammers, boxing gloves and dumb-bells which hurtle across the rafters and will knock you flat if you can't avoid them!
"Complete with sound effects, full colour graphics and table of high scores, BOXER is fully compatible with either keyboard or joysticks."
You and your rival are competing for the attentions of a young lady. At the bottom of the screen, she is releasing balloons which you must try to catch when they get stuck in the rafters of the Gym. Any balloons which escape to the top of the screen will be awarded to your opponent.
If you collect five balloons before he does, your score will be increased by the bonus in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and you will move to a more challenging Gym. If your opponent is the first one to collect five balloons, you will lose a life and stay in the same Gym.
You can only catch balloons safely while they are caught in the rafters. If you try to grab or touch one while it is moving you will fall over. This will also happen if you have contact with your opponent or any of the boxing gloves, hammers or dumb-bells which move across the Gym.
Every time you get three falls, you will lose a life. Gloves and hammers can be punched and dumb-bells jumped over to score points. Points can also be scored by jumping up to the punch balls at the bottom of the screen.
Z - Left, X - Right, : - Up, / - Down, <RETURN> - Punch, <SHIFT> - Jump
Q/S - Sound Off/On, <COPY>/<DELETE> - Pause On/Off, <ESCAPE> - Quit
BOXER can also be played using a joystick controller. Pushing the joystick up will make the boxer jump, except when he is at the bottom of a rope, in which case he will climb the rope. Press the Fire button to punch to get up after a fall.
Hammer (punched) .................... 100
Glove (punched) ..................... 100
Dumb-bell (jumped) .................. 100
Punch ball ......................... 1000
Collecting a balloon ................ 200
You start the game with three boxers but you will receive a bonus boxer for every 10,000 points you score, up to a maximum of three at any one time.
A table of the eight highest scores is displayed at the end of each game.
Instructions' Source : BOXER (Acornsoft) Back and Inner Inlay
There will be many readers who will raise their eyebrows ceiling high on seeing a review of Acornsoft's BOXER. They will feel that as possibly the most abundant title for the Electron, and certainly one of the earliest, Wal Mansell's platformer (which, let's face it, has very little to do with boxing at all!) has already done so many rounds that it should be truly exhausted.
But interestingly enough, simply because it was so quick on the scene, BOXER missed out on an appraisal by a Software Surgery and, with versions across all machines and all media formats, other readers probably reckon a review is long overdue. Seconds out, then...
The match, as indicated, is a platform game; done nicely in Mode 2 and including several rules swiped from the sport to give it a sense of individuality: You are a boxer fighting an opponent; three falls and you're out; survive one "Round", which is how levels are termed, and you go on to the next one. It's a simple game of ladders, ropes and rafters, huge hulking boxer and sundry sprites and a high playability factor thanks to machine code programming.
Yet your scene is not a boxing ring but a gymnasium. Or so the inlay would like you to believe - When was the last time you went into a gym with four floors, ropes connecting them and dangerous boxing gloves and dumbbells hurtling across each? Digression over, the object of the game is not to compete with your opponent for the World Title but rather for the Miss World collection of pixels standing on the bottom platform.
However, impressing this particular girl is strange. Evidently of a camp thinking two men pulverising each other for entertainment is a bit cruel, she has elected that the two instead try to catch balloons she releases! So what we have here is a gym where floating balloons become stuck in rafters above her and it's up to you to both reach and head-butt [Is that allowed in boxing? - Ed] them before they free themselves.
Sounds simple and, once you've got the hang of it, it is...for a few "Rounds". In contrast to you though, your opponent doesn't need to 'butt five balloons to become the hero of the hour; it is simply enough that you let five balloons get away to the top of the screen to ensure his victory! It's also worth nothing that HE is completely unaffected by all the gym instruments whizzing to and fro. And is carrying a big, infinite stack of weights (They look more like pies when he drops them!) for the sole purpose of depositing them on your head if you're on the rafter beneath him!
Anything that moves in BOXER is no touchy-touchy. Failure to obey the rule results in your boxer crashing to the ground. This even includes the balloons themselves which cannot be headbutted until they become lodged somewhere. As the game toughens up, the length of time they stick around dwindles and, with increased numbers of gym instruments flying across at foot, chest and head height, you are less likely to be able to have time to consider a risk-free strategy for reaching them all.
Control in this game is very simple. Z, X, * and ? are used to walk left and right and climb up and down ropes whilst <RETURN> punches and <SHIFT> jumps. None of the fiendish gym equipment is unavoidable with a combination of each - although look out for the unexpected fast-flying boxing glove after you've been knocked down once and try to get back up - and punching any object successfully will make it disappear. If you wish, you can opt to use a Plus 1 joystick.
Each time you collect five balloons, your boxer falls in love, i.e.little red hearts appear around his head, and you move to a harder gym. The situation is reversed should you miss five (and you lose a life).
When a game is over, you are shown the High Score table and, if good enough, asked to enter your name. Pretty standard stuff but nicely done in that same way that all Acornsoft arcade games seem to share.
BOXER may be old [Released in 1984! - Ed] but it's worth having. The Electron version is unfortunately too fast on a BBC (and the BBC version too slow on an Electron!) but each version is exactly the same and shows just what comparable speed an Electron can achieve when games are correctly converted. It's also reasonably addictive and, as it's also on ADFS (PAGE at &1D00 ok) disk, deserves to bound about a bit longer.
Dave Edwards, EUG #51